At the End of the Day

The rain is sleeting down here. It is that time of year in Aquitaine when the Aqua is unrestrained. So I am that man hunkered down near a log-burner, happy to know that the one thing I can rely on requires no software, no impenetrable manual, and no programmateur to control it: I chuck wood on it, open vents, and the bloody thing works every time.

There is a near-irreversible tendency in 2015 for every demand for elegant simplicity to be treated as the demented ramblings of an old Luddite fart. You may not wish to even think about the nature of old farts emitted by a Luddite, but that’s another post for another day. This evening, my only task is to submit that new technology is a very different kettle of fish to progress.

Most software ‘advances’ are hampered by two things: programmers who could not explain the importance of water to a fish, and the Chinese hardwear that is supposed to run them. I have a Greek friend who says, “If it needs a program, it’s too complicated”. She’s right: wells for water require an understanding of hydraulics, the internal combustion engine asks only that one gets electricity, gasoline and propulsion, heating systems need nothing more than a gasp of fire and gravity, while even cutting-edge geothermal heating systems are based solely on the fairly obvious fact that the deeper you dig, the hotter it is.

Simple does not mean simplistic: the two words have entirely separate meanings. Simplistic is what politicians and neoliberals do: simple is what creative people do. And separate yet again from those two, complicated is what Aspergers sufferers do.

Everything that is complicated today earns an undeserved respect: and things that are really very simple are re-engineered to be complex in order to protect the jobs of those who comment upon them.

Soccer, banking, Sovereign fiscal management, commerce, transport strategy, water conservation and farming: all of these are remarkably easy to understand. The only exceptions to this rule are cricket, sexual attraction and American football, but let’s not go there: everything else is straightforward.

It is cold here, there are clouds at low levels and it is sleeting down. The cold half-freezes the water droplets in the clouds, they become heavy and thus fall onto my head as I pee in the garden. I retreat inside and put another log on the fire. This is the quintessential nature of human life on Earth. It is so bloody obvious, I could teach it to an earthworm in under twenty minutes.

What I couldn’t do is convince a Cabinet Minister, investment banker, celebrity, Marxist, neoliberal, Oped writer, Oxbridge PhD or Nobel prizewinning scientist of that if I stayed up all night.

And this is why,my friends, there is no correlation whatsoever between IQ and the likelihood of that IQ owner making a useful contribution to the reduction of human suffering.

Earlier at The Slog: Building bridges between Athens and Berlin